does my baby have colic?
phases of colic
Has your baby got colic or are they just fussy? It's not easy to tell in the early stages. But doing the rights things to address the cause is the key to preventing a progression of symptoms. Typically we see these phases progressing over the first 6-8 weeks...
symptoms aren't yet severe and include:
baby seems unhappy for some reason
moaning and groaning
fussy feeding, frequent or comfort feeding
fussy with perhaps little crying spells
the weeks go by and symptoms worsen:
cramping is worse
crying can last over an hour
everyone's sleep is broken
reflux (vomiting) often starts in this phase
parents often trying various medicines and remedies by now
in the final phase, symptoms of pain and discomfort are overwhelming:
crying can continues for hours
baby is in pain, exhausted and probably not eating well
mom and dad are frazzled
understanding the symptoms of colic
moaning and groaning
an early sign that things could go wrong, is lots of moaning and groaning, pushing and straining, even during their sleep. if this early symptom is present, it's likely that there's excessive gas in their digestive tract. this is the best time to really learn good burping and abdominal massage techniques. they are often not the easiest babies to burp, which is why gas is building up. active burping techniques work much better then the basic (static) positions.
as gas builds up and takes up more space, the baby starts to cramp... knees to chest and hands in little fists. a cramping baby that continues to show symptoms for more than a week is almost certainly experiencing colic.
reflux and silent reflux
reflux is spitting up or vomiting up milk. when there is too much gas and wind in the stomach or intestinal tract, the milk stays in one place too long and digestive acids starts to irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines. the body protects itself by throwing this up.
if the milk that comes up is still fairly milky and clear, and there's no real discomfort (crying), then it's likely that they simply drank too much. alternatively, a burp should have come up but didn't and is now preventing the milk from settling.
if the milk that comes up is thick and partially digested (a bit like cottage cheese) it suggests that the blockage is a little lower down in the digestive tract. to help this, you need to stimulate and release pockets of gas from the intestinal area. in the case of formula fed babies, it may also mean that their digestive system is having difficulty processing this particular brand in which case you may need to change formula.
prolonged crying spells are the hallmark of late stage colic. the other symptoms would not bother us nearly as much if it weren't for a screaming and inconsolable child!
the goal must always be to try and prevent the situation getting to this point.
why does the gas build up?
incomplete burping technique - not getting all the winds out
immature digestive tract - 'kinks' in the intestinal 'hosepipes'
formula not digesting well causing excessive digestive gases
baby still learning how to 'push' gas out but not quite getting it right
baby swallowing too much air when feeding
the sooner you can start to do the right things, the easier it is to break the cycle. symptoms usually start to ease within a few days.